Magical Herbs for Smudging

There are many herbs and resins used for smudging. The most common herb used is sage, but sweetgrass, cedar and juniper are also popular. Resins like copal, frankincense and myrrh are also used.

Of the over 200 types of sage, there are only a few generally used for smudge. The most common types of sage in magic are culinary sage, white sage, desert sage, clary sage, and diviner's sage. With so many types of sage, it is usually best to buy based on the scientific name. This is listed in italics after the most common name.

Types of Sage

Culinary Sage (Salvia Officinalis, Garden Sage, Kitchen Sage, Common Sage)

This is the type of sage you will find in most grocery stores. It is sometimes used in essential oils, but clary sage is more common for this use. Culinary sage is an acceptable substitute when other types are not available.

White Sage (Salvia Apiana, Bee Sage, Sacred Sage)

White sage is considered sacred by many Native Americans. It is used to cleanse a person or space of negative energies. White Sage may be bundled into a wand or stick, or burned loose. Many Native American tribes still use the stems and leaves as smudge during purification ceremonies. The practice has been adopted by many Pagans for their own spiritual uses. Most traditions consider Sage to be a masculine, God oriented Energy. 

Desert Sage (Salvia Arizonica, Desert Indigo Sage, Arizona Sage)

This is commonly used as a substitute for White sage. It is most commonly bought in bound bundles, unlike White Sage which is frequently sold loose. The longer stems and smaller leaves of Desert Sage make the bundling process easier. 

Clary Sage  (Salvia Sclarea, clary)

This is most often used in perfumes and essential oils. It is grown mostly in Western Europe. 

Diviner's Sage (Salvia Divinorum [previously Salvia Spendens], Ska Pastora, Shepherdess's Herb, Ska Maria Pastora, Yerba de Maria

Isolated groups of shamans in Mexico are said to use this to induce a visionary state. It is also used to alter consciousness during spiritual healing. Diviner's Sage is generally used by smoking or chewing the leaf to achieve this effect. It contains Salvinorin A, a psychoactive chemical that appears to be unique to this plant. While it remains legal in most countries and the majority of the United States, its effects have not yet been accurately studied.

Several states have passed laws criminalize Diviner's Sage, and many state laws regarding inhalant abuse can apply this as well. This is one of the few herbs whose use I do NOT recommend. If you do decide to use it, do so only under the supervision of an experienced shaman, and only with pure spiritual intent.

Other Herbs for Smudging

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata, sweet grass, buffalo grass, bison grass, holy grass(UK), manna grass, Mary's Grass, seneca grass, vanilla grass)

Sweetgrass, like white sage, is widely used by Native Americans. Sweetgrass leaves are often dried and made into braids for storage and/or sale. Sweetgrass is used most often in peace and healing rituals. Many find it to be a useful aid for entering a meditative state. Sweetgrass is a more feminine, Goddess oriented Energy.

Lavender (lavendula angustifolia, [also Lavandula spica, Lavandula vera; previously Lavandula officialis], common Lavender, true lavender, English lavender

Lavender is used for dozens of different purposes. Besides being used in food products and in essential oils, it is also a claming addition to smudge. Lavender should not, however, be used by itself for this purpose. 

Flat Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens [also Libocendrus decurrens], Incense Cedar, California Incense Cedar

Flat cedar is used in much the same way that White Sage and Sweetgrass are, and for many of the same reasons. Unlike Sage and Sweetgrass, rather than just purifying, also attract positive energy. 

Juniper

Although better known for the medicinal and sacred properties of its berries, juniper branches and/or leaves may occasionally be added to purifying and cleansing herb blends.

Resins: Copal, Frankincense and Myrrh

All three of these resins have been used for purification in Native American (Copal) or Indo-European (Frankincense and Myrrh) Tradition. Unlike fresh or dried herbs, resins require charcoal or and existing fire to burn properly. Some smudge sticks will have a copal powder mixed into the center or them. 

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